As revitalization of the Pearl Brewery began several years ago, the owners of the property, Silver Ventures, knew that a farmers market would be a great way of bringing local people to the site while developing a greater sense of community. Three years ago this weekend, the Pearl Farmers Market began with vendors selling everything from fresh vegetables and meats to olive oil, baked goods, lavender products, and flowers.
The lineup of vendors has grown and changed somewhat in that time. Many of the vendors have become old friends over time — Beaune Farms, Biga on the Banks for their breads, Sandy Oaks Olive Orchards, Al’s Gourmet Nuts, Thunder Heart Bison and Peeler Farms chickens, to name a few — and new ones have been added, including Restaurant Gwendolyn, which offers handmade sausages and bacon. The market has also become more at home in its space at the back of the Pearl Brewery, with hundreds of people milling about and many a dog sniffing out the scene.
On Saturday, the spring harvest after the recent rains brought an abundance of items, including breakfast radishes, kale, arugula, cabbage, onions, spring garlic, fennel, green beans, herbs, leeks, brussels sprouts, new potatoes, beets, varieties of squashes, carrots, cucumbers, shallots, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and more. Fredericksburg peaches were going quickly, as were blackberries and a few strawberries.
Cora Lamar of Oak Hill Farm drew customers with the vivid lavender-colored artichoke blossoms that she had. She also had a few artichokes with her, but they sold quickly, she said.
For those who bought an artichoke blossom for the first time, she explained that they should not be placed in water or they’ll rot. Instead, the flowering plant, which is in the same family as the thistle, should be set up without water. As the plant begins to dry, the green leaves should turn brown, but the flower would retain its color, Lamar said.
The morning sun drew a line to the handcrafted ice cream booth, where flavors included Strawberry Basil, Salty Caramel, Orange Lavender, Blackberry Lemon and Peach Pecan Amaretto.
The anniversary celebration also brought out some of the city’s chefs who provided samples of dishes that used ingredients you could find in the market.
Chad Carey of the Monterey was there with his new chef, Coleman Foster, to hand out chicken meatballs with a peach kimchi. John Brand of Las Canarias and Ostra offered braised lamb’s neck, while Ocho chef Jason Garcia served a quinoa salad with seasonal vegetables and a tamarind vinaigrette.
It’s always fun to stop by Melissa Guerra’s Tienda de Cocina in the neighboring Full Goods building on the brewery campus. In addition to the great kitchen items that the store always features, Guerra was offering a hula hoop demonstration and she was spinning right along to the DJ’s funkadelic sounds.